It ain’t the heat; it’s the humility.”– Yogi Berra

It’s not about the money. What is your real inner motivation for how you handle money – how do you spend it, and how and why do you save it?

Having talked to thousands of people about their money, we have found that money is very emotional for people. How you handle it reveals what is really important to you – your core values.

Think about it – what’s important about money to you? The answer should be an emotion that is your inner driving force.

Based on the book, “Values Based Selling” by Bill Bachrach, we have asked the above question to thousands of people. Here are some of the most common answers to this question that people have told us in the last 15 years.

Some of these values may seem to overlap, but if you focus on how they feel, you will see that each feels very different. You may have several core values, but you will understand yourself and your relationship to money best if you know your main core value:

Security/Peace of mind

This is the single most common emotion people look for from their money, especially for women. If you are looking for security, you will want a comfortable nest egg and relatively safe investments. You may spend money on your family or home, which are most important to you, but otherwise prefer to save money to have a larger nest egg. You have a tendency to buy investments that are too safe and often end up with a nest egg that is far too small for you to really feel secure. You may not think about money much, other than either feeling warm and secure or feeling insecure about your future.


Real freedom is financial freedom. There are so many things that you can do if you have money that are just not an option otherwise. Many people really want their money to give them freedom. Freedom from a routine life that can be suffocating. Freedom to do whatever is important to you and gives your life meaning.

Reaching a point in your life where you have true freedom requires more money than looking for security, because you want to have the option to spend spontaneously on things that may seem frivolous to other people. You want to have options in your life.

You probably think about money quite a bit (how to get more of it). You look for creative ideas to make your money work harder and are probably an aggressive investor, but are susceptible to slick sales pitches or investing in ways that don’t really work.


Life for you is a series of experiences. Enjoying life and creating fun and rewarding memories are most important for you. You may make a good income, but are probably a spender and may have significant debts. You tend to think short term and therefore may have little or no savings or investments. Your spontaneous nature probably makes you a bad investor, but you can do well with a “hands off” strategy.


There is a quiet, inner confidence that comes from having money. If you look for inner self-confidence from your money, you may indirectly link your personal value to your net worth. Many millionaires (“Millionaire Next Door” book types) gain their self-confidence from having money, not spending money.

You are probably frugal, but generous to family, friends that are important to you, or certain charities. People in your life probably have no idea how much money you have. You may well accumulate more than you will ever need and may regret never spending much of it. Having money allows you to do what is important to you and, if necessary, make a real difference in the lives of people you care about.

You may be a confident, patient investor, but seeking self-confidence can drive you to invest in ineffective ways.


Respect is similar to self-confidence, except that it is more about others admiring you and appearing confident, rather than having an inner self-confidence. You like to own things that are good quality and have quality brand names. You may be a spender and have debt problems, never accumulating much wealth. You may be more interested in looking like you have money, than actually having it, but you need to have a reasonable nest egg to avoid ever losing face. You are likely very generous with family and friends, and even acquaintances. You have a tendency to be unfocused with scattered investments.


Money can mean you know you will never be a burden to your loved ones. Being financially dependent on someone else often comes with strings. Independence requires a reliable income and a solid nest egg. You may want to do everything yourself, whether you are good at it or not. If you know your weaknesses, you may well look for professionals you can trust in these areas to ensure your independence.

These are just a few of the core, emotional values. Everyone is unique, but most people have one main core value that essentially defines who they are.

A financial plan that does not look at your emotional values related to money can often seem like just a bunch of numbers. Once you understand what is important about money to you, you can learn to use money to make your life fulfilling.

We are curious about what type of people MDJ readers are. Of the above 6 core values, what’s important about money to you?

Ed Rempel is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) who built his practice by providing his clients solid, comprehensive financial plans and personal coaching.  If you would like to contact Ed, you can leave a comment in this post, or visit his website  You can read his other articles here.

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